Biblical guidance for managing life’s most challenging people
Sometimes we have people in our lives who seem to create difficulty wherever they go. This can be for a variety of reasons including the fact that WE could be actually attracting such folks into our experiences. For now, let’s assume there are some people who simply live unhappy and unfulfilled lives. In their search for feelings of significance they become a drain to others! Being in their presence diminishes hope, poisons happiness and upsets relationships. Their influence quietly becomes a centerpiece or even an obsession in our daily experience. What do we do? Walk away? Tell them off? Mount an attack of our own? What is the Christian thing to do? How does the Bible guide us through such extreme circumstances of dealing with toxic people?
What about turning the other cheek?
When faced with toxic people, it seems one of the “go to” Scriptures for any Christian is Jesus' famous words in Matthew 5 where he advised us to “turn the other cheek.” The assumed implication here is that we are supposed to rise above whatever the demeaning behavior or words are. We are to be the bigger person and “just take it.” While we are supposed to be gracious in such difficulties, the idea of becoming someone’s doormat is far from what Jesus was teaching us.
How did Jesus himself manage the toxic accusations and behaviors of those who sought to undermine his ministry? In the end, we know he absorbed their vitriol. He willingly experienced torment, torture, crucifixion and death. Amazingly, he willingly did these things for the benefit of those who hated him! However, during his 3 1/2-year ministry, Jesus handled those same people and their anger in a very different way. He talked to them and responded to their questions. He witnessed the truth to them. Jesus did NOT enter into their game. He did NOT absorb their accusations and insults; he handled them instead. Jesus never considered himself to be the person they accused him of being. He always saw himself through the eyes of his Father.
Our natural reactions are likely not righteously appropriate.
Understanding how Jesus handled the toxic behavior of those who so vehemently wanted to ruin him is a huge step. It gives us a basis for managing the difficult relationships we undoubtedly have to cope with. We learn our natural reactions to toxicity are usually not the healthiest responses. We need to become aware of the difference between emotional convenience and what is righteously appropriate.
Check out our September 23, 2019 podcast, “How Do You Deal with Toxic People?” for more. We address several key principles to deal with toxicity and how to be conduit for communicating through the mess. We talk about the differences between absorbing and handling the abuse. Most importantly, we talk about the fact that we have a choice. Will you continue to welcome toxic behavior whenever it shows up, or will you choose to set boundaries and repel its poison? You decide!
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